We have now three, widely separated farms in south Jersey that have infestations of pepper weevil. And, at least two additional farms are probably infested. Pepper weevil is not a migratory pest but has to be transported into New Jersey, and as yet we do not know how the weevil gets here.
|Pepper weevil adult|
Pepper weevil is a serious pest of all pepper varieties. The short, 3 week life cycle, allows a rapid population build-up. Each female is capable of laying around 200 eggs, initially inserting eggs in flowers and small fruit, but as the small fruit drop off the plant the weevils will lay eggs in larger fruit. Upon hatching the grub feeds in the fruit core, creating cavities in which the grub will reside as it transforms to the adult stage. The adult weevil will chew a hole in the pepper wall to escape. The plant is able to recognize that the fruit have a problem and will abort infested flowers and fruit. Substantial yield loss is possible. Pepper weevil is a tropical/subtropical pest that cannot overwinter in New Jersey.
Farmers must be vigilant with their peppers and look for the presence of aborted flowers and small fruit on the ground. Cut these open and look for white or grey, legless grubs, or creamy-white pupae, which will be in chewed out cells within the pepper fruit. Yellow sticky cards and lures can be purchased for monitoring for the presence of the adults. See http://www.greatlakesipm.com/ or http://www.trece.com/agmon.html or http://www.gemplers.com/tech/ilures.htm
Pepper weevil is a difficult and expensive pest to manage. To date, we have not been able to exterminate established field populations. Given that it is late summer, farmers with infested fields should do an economic analysis to determine how vigorously they want to attempt to control the weevil, taking into account market commitments and price and the cost of insecticide product and application. According to Florida researchers, the best weevil insecticide is Actara. However, there is a limitation of 11 oz of product per acre per season, 3 to 5.5 oz per acre per application. Read the label for other restrictions. See the 2012 Commercial Vegetable Recommendations book for other registered materials.
If you suspect that you have an infestation, please contact your county agent or myself at email@example.com